Gratitude’s a great attitude any day of the year.


Every morning I wake up grateful, now that I’ve realized how blessed my life has been and is.  Somehow I seem always to have chosen the right circles or environments for acceptance as a gay man.  By sheer luck, as a youth I stumbled into New Orleans’ French Quarter, a gay haven back then in the early 1960’s (and now a gay Disneyland).  In my later years in the enlightened worlds of academia and arts administration, the question of one’s sexuality was usually immaterial, though in some situations it could even be a good credential.  I truly appreciate these blessings.

In my long gay life I’ve experienced only one truly homophobic incident, which happened in the French Quarter 1963.  In the late afternoon my Colombian lover Alphonse and I were walking up Royal Street.  I was pulling a red wagon full of a little girl Mumu (3), and her brother Krell (6) strolled along beside us.  Across the street, three ball-capped teenaged boys walking the other way saw us and started shouting, “Queers!”  Now in my experience, this sort of thing simply didn’t happen in the Quarter.  Alphonse and I stared at the boys, stunned, but Krell yelled back at them, “Assholes!”  Then he dropped his shorts and mooned them.  But that wasn’t the incident.

When I’d strolled home that evening and was sitting on my patio reading, I heard the doorbell ring and walked down the carriageway to answer the door.  When I opened it, the three boys burst in and attacked me.  They left me on the floor with a cut eyebrow, a broken nose, and one of their ball-caps.  In bloody shock, I staggered the block over to Lafitte’s in Exile where a (hot) friend chivalrously ripped up his T-shirt to bandage my head and helped me to the hospital.  That’s my war story.  The bridge of my nose is still crooked.

There was however another incident of physical aggression in my New Orleans years, anything but homophobic.  One night on my jubilant entry into the Gin Mill, a depraved Greek sailor bar, I was welcomed by an aging, heavily made up queen called Miss Kitty, who leapt up from her barstool snarling and ran at me with a knife.  Several valorous sailors snagged her and tossed her out onto Decatur Street.  Then they bought me an ouzo.  I felt rather sorry for poor Kitty, but she just wouldn’t forgive me for making off with that young sailor Pteros.  Ah, lecherous youth!

Comfortable in my charmed gay life, I bleed for our gay youth still being bullied and persecuted by ignorant classmates, brutalized and killed by mindless bigots, for anyone fired from a job, kicked out of an apartment, or ostracized by heartless family and friends—just for being gay.  And it’s a special torment for me to read about the persecution of gays in places like Russia, Uganda, and even North Carolina, about our countless victims of hatred and violence throughout history.  Let me cite a little known event to curl your hair.

The seminal New World historian Garcilaso de la Vega (1539-1616) attested in “The Royal Commentaries of the Inca” to several horrendous instances of slaughter of gays by the Incan rulers throughout their empire, including an oddly humanitarian holocaust in the Chincha valley:

“General Capac Yupanqui was severe only with the sodomites, who, alas, were very numerous there:  He had them all assembled and burned alive, after which he had their houses razed to the ground, their fields destroyed, and the very trees they had planted dug up by the roots.  Had it not been inhuman to do so, General Capac Yupanqui would have had their wives and children burned at the stake as well…”

Alas, indeed.  The wives and children were humanely taken into slavery, female sodomites not being considered quite as evil, I suppose.

We gay folk in this country nowadays really do have some real reasons to give thanks.  Compared to other times and places, we’re well on the way to achieving our “unalienable rights” to Life and Liberty.  It remains to nail down our unalienable right to “the pursuit of Happiness.”




[Thanks for and to several compliments on my website (notably chock full of interesting stuff) and my first blog posting about dancing, I think I’m ready to get regular about this thing.  While in my youth I used to have trouble prioritizing inspirations, as I got older it got to be more of a yes or no question.  Now at my venerable age, I’ve got to balance the time and attention I give to several weighty priorities.

My multi-tasking isn’t doing several things at once, but rather synchronously.  I seem to turn focus like a searchlight from one obsession to another, largely by sheer will-power—and calendar-power.  If I’m going to blog, by golly, it better be on the calendar.  So, for the moment, I’m going to mark Thursdays for new postings.  Keep checking in on me!]


Regarding nightlife and dancing in Santa Fe NM, as I mentioned before, for the past few years the Rouge Cat had been Santa Fe’s more or less gay dance bar.  To my horror, without any fanfare or folderol, soon after my first posting it closed.  In fond memoriam of the Rouge Cat, here’s a cursory history of my dancing venues here in Santa Fe.

On visits in the late 70’s, I’d go to the Senate Lounge, a venerable bar just around the corner from the bus station.  It was my first experience of a “mixed” bar.  By the time I moved to Santa Fe for real in 1983, the Senate was gone, and being in a relationship, I didn’t go out very much.  Still, there were a few dance occasions at a great place called Club West on Alameda and another called El Paseo on San Francisco Street.  Then came the Cargo Club followed by Club Luna on Cerrrillos (or the other way around?).  After that my partnered years became a blur, and by the early 90’s I didn’t know from night spots.

Once single again in those early 90’s, I danced at the Club 414 on Old Santa Fe Trail, where I first encountered Oona’s disco wildness.  I found myself dancing on a table, starting a tradition of six or seven tables along one wall as go-go boy stands. Within a year or so the action moved to the Drama Club on Guadalupe Street, with a stage where we danced like wild people and had great holiday parties for hot, shirtless frenzies.  It reigned for a few years, only to be replaced by the same owners’ Paramount, a glitzy space on the corner of Montezuma and Sandoval.  That was a glorious institution for several years hosting Oona’s regular Wednesday Trash Disco, and life was exceedingly good.  But it closed; they tore it down, dug an enormous hole, and built the new Santa Fe County Courthouse.  Sic transit gloria.

With the passing of the Paramount, there was a drought for some time (years?) until Oona started dance nights at the lounge at Rainbow Vision, a gay retirement community, now called something less vivid.  There was a little stage where I shook my beauty with vigor and sweaty abandon.  Then the entrepreneurial Paramount owner opened the Rouge Cat, and the dance scene got a new lease on life.  For about four years.

Since my first posting, dancing this year was really difficult, with an occasional youth party at Molly’s Kitchen with electronic dance music (EDM, which I’m trying to appreciate) or a couple hugely appreciated Trash Disco nights at the Palace Restaurant.  That is, up till a month or so ago when there was a revolution in Santa Fe’s nightlife.  Maybe it had something to do with the election of Javier Gonzales as the city’s new mayor?

Suddenly music events started happening all over the place on the weekend nights, and walking around the (old) downtown almost reminded me of the (old) French Quarter.  What’s more, wonder of wonders, two new dance bars have opened!  First the Skylight on San Francisco, a huge place with a gallery overlooking the dance floor, and then the Blue Rooster, a reincarnation of the Rouge Cat, now as a self-proclaimed gay bar, with the familiar dance floor downstairs and Oona presiding on Saturday nights.

You’d think I’d be in hog heaven, but last weekend it was cold out and I wasn’t really feeling like driving downtown.  Instead, I realized that with that great Pandora online music system it was no problem.  I pulled up a “cumbia colombiana” station and danced shirtless and in slippers in my living room for a good hour and a half.  Dancing with eyes closed, I peeled away a half century and was once again in the mad third room of La Casa de los Marinos.  Maybe tonight I’ll pull up Greek and visit the Gin Mill, but on Saturday I’ll be at the Blue Rooster.  Promise.